Community service is a good first step, but only grassroots political advocacy can save American democracy from corporate interests, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader told an audience of 200 at MIT Monday.
Nader, a lawyer and consumer advocate who made his name in the '60s by exposing American cars as unsafe, urged civic-minded students to get involved in politics.
"To know and not to act is not to know," he told the crowd, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb.
"I believe we can have a major progressive political party in this country," he said. "Do we have the desire to do it?"
Nader ran for president as a Green in 1996, but he spent only $5,000, leading to grumbles that his heart wasn't in the campaign.
This election season, he vows to win five percent of the popular vote nationwide, thereby guaranteeing the Green Party federal matching funds in 2004.
He said he hopes to capture the attention of voters disillusioned by the two-party system, especially 18 to 25-year-olds who have been conditioned to expect nothing better than the government they currently have.
"If you didn't think there was any other food than greasy McDonald's hamburgers," he said, "you would put your teeth in greasy McDonald's hamburgers."
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